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Cablegate: Reports of Agr-Linked Illegal Migrant Deportations

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DE RUEHIT #0929 2891549
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161549Z OCT 07 ZDK
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7598
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000929

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV TU AM
SUBJECT: REPORTS OF AGR-LINKED ILLEGAL MIGRANT DEPORTATIONS
IN TURKEY DISPELLED

1. (SBU) Summary and comment. Turkish-Armenian contacts
representing business, religious and intellectual communities
dispelled reports on a pan-Armenian web site suggesting that
the Turkish government had detained approximately 100 illegal
Armenian migrants in retaliation for the U.S. House Foreign
Affairs Committee (HFAC) approval of the Armenian genocide
resolution (AGR). One contact acknowledged unofficial
reports of the detention of 50-60 illegal Armenian migrants
but stated these individuals had been arrested four days
prior to the HFAC vote. Some 70 thousand illegal Armenians
reside in Turkey. Broad-based speculation on ways in which
the Turkish Government might react if AGR passes in the full
House extends to them as well. There is no indication that
reports of current detentions, if true, are anything more
than the unfortunate, coincidental timing of normal
crack-down operations against illegal migrants in the same
week as the HFAC vote on the AGR. End summary and comment.

2. (SBU) The independent Pan-Armenian Network NGO reported
via its website panarmenian.net on October 15 that the
Government of Turkey (GOT) had begun arresting Armenian
citizens in retaliation for the October 10 HFAC approval of
the AGR. The report cited an Irish Times article which
allegedly stated some 100 illegal Armenian migrants had been
detained in Turkey for subsequent deportation to their
homeland and that "their deportation is viewed as revenge to
adoption of the Armenian genocide resolution by the U.S.
House Foreign Affairs Committee." The website further quoted
Armenia's representative to the Istanbul-based Black Sea
Economic Cooperation Karen Mirzoyan as having confirmed that
Armenian citizens are being arrested in Turkey "with a
purpose of deportation over violation of visa regime."
Mirzoyan later told us he had been contacted by Radio liberty
last week and was asked about the reported detentions, but
noted he had no official information from his government
related to the arrests. He indicated that the reported
detentions were of illegal workers and unrelated to the AGR.
He thanked us for our interest and committed to alert us if
he becomes aware of any retaliatory acts against Armenian
nationals as a result of the AGR.

3. (SBU) Luiz Bakar, an attorney for Armenian Patriarch of
Turkey Mesrob II, told us on October 15 that she had heard
unofficial reports that 50-60 illegal Armenian migrants were
arrested on October 6 (four days prior to the HFAC vote) and
were awaiting deportation in an Istanbul jail for foreigners.
Bakar personally knew two Iranian Armenians who were facing
deportation but there was nothing to suggest these actions
were related to the HFAC vote, she said. Meanwhile the
editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper
Agos, Etyen Mahcupyan, told us that he had not heard of any
arrests and deportations of illegal Armenian migrants.
Another Agos contact explained the government had begun
detaining and deporting a few of Turkey's 70 thousand illegal
Armenian migrants this summer but that these actions were not
linked to the AGR. Nergis Ozturk, coordinator of
Turkey-Armenia Business Development Council gave a similar
account, stating her investigations revealed no Armenians on
deck for deportation and that the recent crack-downs were
non-discriminatory, applying to Armenians as much as any
other foreigner in an illegal status in Turkey.
WIENER

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